The Rugby World Cup that England are to host in 2015 will kick off on the compromise date of Sept. 18, rugby union’s governing body, the IRB, announced on Tuesday.
The decision, the IRB said, was the “result of an exhaustive and collaborative review process which culminated in the recommendation of Sept. 18 by Tier 1 chairmen and chief executives last week as the most suitable start date within the September-October Rugby World Cup window.”
England’s Rugby Football Union had wanted a Sept. 4 start to the sport’s showcase event, but the Southern Hemisphere unions preferred a Sept. 25 kick-off to minimize disruption to the Rugby Championship, the tournament that is replacing the Tri-Nations after the inclusion of Argentina.
The IRB said the Sept. 18 date would ensure a “tournament that will continue to showcase and fund the global game [and] delivery of a financially strong and competitive tournament.”
Importantly, it added that it would mean “minimal collective financial impact on participating unions and other major international rugby competitions.”
“A number of dates were considered, with each proposal accompanied by detailed analysis and research,” the IRB said. “Sept. 18 was selected to maximize collective benefits for participating unions, while ensuring the best-possible sporting and financial platform for an exceptional Rugby World Cup in England that will continue to drive forward the development of the global game.”
The final of the 2015 World Cup will be played on Oct. 31 at Twickenham Stadium in London.
In other news, the Samoa Rugby Union (SRU) have dropped captain Mahonri Schwalger from the national side after his stinging criticism of the team management’s conduct at last year’s Rugby World Cup.
New coach Stephen Betham did not include Schwalger in a 35-man training squad named on Tuesday ahead of next month’s Pacific Nations Cup and a one-off Test with Scotland in Apia.
Betham also axed center Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, who generated controversy at the World Cup in New Zealand with an angry Twitter rant accusing Welsh referee Nigel Owens of racism after Samoa’s 13-5 loss to South Africa.
The coach said Schwalger was left out due to his age, but the 31-year-old hooker told the Samoa Observer he believed it was because he spoke out about management of the team, known as Manu Samoa, at the World Cup.
“I knew it would cost me my international career,” he told the newspaper. “If it means that the Manu will go forward without me then that’s a sacrifice I will take.”
Samoa disappointed at the World Cup, failing to reach the knockout stage, and Schwalger provided a damning assessment of management’s performance at the tournament in a report to Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
He said officials would disappear for days at a time, engaged in drinking binges at the team hotel and treated the event as a holiday. Most of those he criticized have since left the SRU.
Schwalger, whose Chiefs are second on the Super Rugby ladder, said he had no warning about being dropped and still felt he could make a contribution to the national team.
“Age means nothing, selection should be based on performance, not age,” he told the Observer.
Fuimaono-Sapolu, who will play club rugby in Japan next season after leaving British side Gloucester, said on Twitter that he was “gutted” at his omission.